Last year’s 130mm-travel (5.1in) Cannondale Rize impressed us. The new RZ range uses a similar frame conﬁguration to offer either a 140mm (5.5in) all-mountain stonker, or this 120mm (4.7in) trail ripper.
Ride & handling: True trail ripper with sprightly single-pivot ride
Out of the blocks you get the feeling of a lively and eager bike. This is no ﬂyweight cross-country machine, clocking in at 12.6kg (27.8lb), but its sprightly ride make the scales seem inconsequential.
The low rotating mass of the Schwalbe tyres and Mavic wheels, combined with the well suited valving of the Fox RP2 shock in ProPedal mode, gave instant surges along the trail with every pedal stroke.
The cockpit is well laid out for climbing, with the industry standard 22.5in top tube on our medium size sample, but trail friendliness was hindered by a long 100mm stem and narrow 660mm bars. A swap to our favoured 70mm stem with 700mm bars changed the bike to a trail-raging machine, making the most of the slack-ish 68.3-degree head angle.
The stiff carbon front end keeps things tracking well through the rough. We did get occasional twang from the Fox Float 32 RL fork, thanks to its weedy quick-release axle, made more obvious by the immense stiffness of the 1.5in steerer tube. The fork has adequate sensitivity in the small stuff, with just the right amount of ramp-up when you give it a wallop.
There is some rear wheel steering ﬂex in the chainstays when stomping the bike through a hard turn, but this actually beneﬁts the ride, helping you corner harder and faster. After an efﬁcient climb, this eager badger of a bike’s lighter, shorter travel and effectively ﬁrmer platform is superbly lively.
Feedback from, and control through, the pedals aids acceleration on anything from a singletrack blast to a white-knuckle descent. We did ﬁnd we used all of the travel on most descents, but never felt a harsh bottom-out – just controlled high-speed mayhem.
Frame & equipment: Classy carbon/alloy chassis and quality finishing kit
Cannondale’s ‘Backbone’ uses a one-piece aluminium forging for the bottom bracket, main pivot and the entire seat tube. This gives strength, as well as a stiff and perfectly aligned juncture between the front and rear triangles.
The top, down and head tubes are ﬂowing carbon ﬁbre affairs, with a dipped top tube. The1.5in head tube bulks up the torsional rigidity of the front end. The suspension is a low, single-pivot design, with carbon seatstay struts.
The bike is adorned with a reliable and slick shifting Shimano SLX and XT drivetrain with Avid Elixir 5 brakes offering stacks of power with sublime modulation. The Fox fork rocks a 1.5in steerer and it’s nice to see quality Mavic Crossride wheels ﬁtted, negating the need for costly upgrades.